Underneath the Wreck Pond Railroad Bridge, the orange buoy is out of the water. This past Monday (3/19), the Society wrapped up its second Wreck Pond sampling event of the year. Unlike our previous sampling event earlier in the month, no river herring were caught. Further, only a couple fishes were caught throughout the event: five white suckers were caught Saturday morning (3/17), and two white perch were caught Monday morning. We believe it is likely that the harsh March weather impacted fish movement (as I write this, the fourth nor’easter of the month is barreling across the state). Throughout the net set, winds were blowing hard west creating upwelling and lowering inshore water temperatures. Ocean temperatures were in the low 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature not preferable for river herring migration. Further, winds have been creating blow-out tides with little water remaining to support fish movement during low tide underneath the railroad bridge.
Earlier this month, we registered our first detection of a tagged alewife at the new culvert. Fish 548 was caught in the fyke net the morning of March 1st. She was tagged and released, and later detected at the entrance of the culvert 15 minutes before midnight. Her abrupt departure, may be an indication of fallback, in which the stress of capture and tagging resulted in her abandoning her migration.
Keep a lookout for the orange buoy from March 29th to April 2nd when we will be out there sampling once again.
On the evening of February 27th, the Wreck Pond Sampling team, including local volunteers, set the fyke net up under the rail road bridge located just south of the Shore Road rail road crossing and adjacent to the pump station. The next morning, four fish were caught including one grass carp, two white suckers, and one white perch. Although the evening event yielded no catch, this morning on March 1, 2018 (drum roll please), we caught two healthy adult alewife river herring. All involved were elated and we immediately began to process the fish to ensure survivability. Once weighed and measured, the two individuals (one male and one female) were both safely tagged and released upstream.
This is the earliest the Wreck Pond team has caught river herring in their net. The species is typically observed once water temperatures are between 42 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit but ocean temperatures have been hovering around 40 degrees and we did not anticipate seeing any herring yet. At the time of capture, the temperature in the pond was recorded at 47 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees offshore). We will continue to monitor offshore buoy readings but it would appear that the herring can and do come into Wreck Pond when it is a bit colder offshore. One helpful hint regarding their potential presence close to shore are plunging Northern Gannets observed out at sea. Even though these birds are most likely feeding on bunker, it does make us wonder if schools of herring are mixed in as well.
With the upcoming Nor'easter expected to hit tonight through Saturday morning, the team is curious to see if more herring show up in the net pushed by the winds and exceptionally high tides associated with such a storm. We hope to brave the storm and continue sampling through Saturday, but if the orange buoy is gone, that means we either headed for higher ground or we lost our gear. See you after the storm! If you have interest in participating in any future sampling events, please contact Zack Royle, firstname.lastname@example.org